GOP-led House passes spending package to keep government open, includes $13 billion in earmarks

The spending bill passed 339-85 with more Democrats voting in favor of it than Republicans
Capitol Hill

The GOP-led House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a 1,050-page spending package that includes nearly $13 billion of earmarks, commonly referred to as "pork barrel" spending.

The bill passed 339-85 with more Democrats voting in favor of it than Republicans. In total, 207 Democrats and 132 Republicans voted yes. 

There are earmarks in the legislation sponsored by members of the Democrat and Republican parties. The spending package contains six appropriations bills totaling about $460 billion.

The first spending deadline in the temporary spending bill Congress passed last week is Friday, March 8. The appropriations bills in the new spending package would last for the rest of fiscal year 2024.

"One Republican Senator gets 8 earmarks in the omnibus today. No one voted to add these and no one gets to vote to take these out. We have gone backwards 14 years, to before the 2010 Tea Party wave," Rep. Thomas Massie, R-K.Y., said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, referring to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "The swamp is back to buying Republican votes for the omnibus with earmarks."

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., wrote on his X account that the spending package is "packed with 6,600+ earmarks totaling $12.7 BILLION DOLLARS."

"Skyrocketing inflation. Massive debt. But Washington keeps spending your money on stupid pet projects. NO MORE EARMARKS," he wrote.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-K.Y., said it's "disappointing that Republicans are going along with Democrats" in moving forward with the spending bill that has hundreds of earmarks.

"This is a real step backwards, and I will oppose it with every fiber of my being,"  Paul said.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said there was “no way any mortal could actually vet all of the earmarks in the 48-hour time period they’ve given us so far." 

"Earmarks are the corrupt currency of Congress. No self-respecting Republican should touch them," he wrote.

Lee said Senate lawmakers can still request that their earmarks be stripped from the bill.

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., requested that his $1 million earmark for the renovation of an LGBTQ community center in Philadelphia be removed from the bill after it was revealed that the center contains rooms where members can try out sex fetishes.

Fetterman made the request in a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leaders. It is unclear if the earmark has been removed from the bill at this time.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has reportedly sponsored many earmarks in the spending package. Thune is running to replace Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., who is stepping down from his leadership role in November.

Lee called on Thune to request removal of the earmarks from the spending package. Thune's office was not available for comment before press time.

Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, argued that Congress "should not be giving $12.7 billion to Congressional pork projects when we are $34 trillion in debt."

The bill moves to the Democratic-led Senate for consideration.